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Auto Accidents

Monday, December 11, 2017

Distracted Driving Laws in the U.S.

The rapid growth of technology has connected us now more than ever. We are able to communicate with each other via phone call, text message, or social media at any point in the day. Unfortunately, many people continue to use technology even while they are operating a motor vehicle. It can be hard to put down the phone, but distracted driving is proving to be an increasing danger on the roads. The National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) reports that distracted driving claimed 3,477 lives and injured 391,000 people in 2015 alone.


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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

U.S Traffic Fatalities Are On the Rise

With things like lower gas prices making car travel more affordable than ever and things like cell phone making people more distracted than ever, it might not be surprising to hear that the number of U.S. traffic fatalities continues to rise each year. The actually numbers, however, are shocking. The National Safety Council (NSC) estimate that 38,300 people died and 4.4 million injured on U.S. roads in 2015. This means that the number of U.S. traffic fatalities increased by 8 percent from 2014 to 2015, the single largest one-year increase to occur in 50 years. Furthermore, NSC reports that 2.3 million people sustained “serious injuries,” or injuries requiring medical care, in just a period of 6 months in 2015.


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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

What Are My Legal Options as a Passenger Injured in a Car Accident?

Being injured in a car accident can feel like life as you know it has come to a screeching halt. It is emotionally traumatic. You are physically injured and in pain. These types of things follow you long after you leave the crash site. In addition to all of this, you are facing mounting medical bills and possible lapses in income due to missed work. Drivers may worry that they will be found at fault for the accident. What about passengers? Passengers do not have to worry about being found at fault for an accident, but, as a passenger, you may still worry about whether or not you will be compensated for your injuries and who will pay your personal injury claim.


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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

What Do You Do If You Are Hit by an Uninsured Motorist

In 2015, an estimated 13% of drivers on U.S. roads were uninsured, according to the Insurance Information Institute. That means that as many as 1 in every 10 drivers you see on roads across the country do not have insurance to provide coverage for your injuries should you be involved in a car crash with them. This is a scary thought. Know your options for seeking compensation for your injuries in the event you are hit by an uninsured driver.

If you are injured in a motor vehicle accident and the other driver does not have insurance company, the best case scenario is that you carry uninsured motorist (UM) coverage. UM policies exists for this particular type of accident scenario. Your UM coverage will help you pay for expenses resulting from bodily injury, including emergency room treatment and follow-up medical care.

UM coverage is something that you pay your insurance company for to protect yourself from uninsured drivers. Unfortunately, it can still be a fight to get those benefits paid out should you ever need them. An insurance company will find any kind of loophole to not pay out on your UM claim or to undercut the value of your claim so they only have to pay out a minimum. To help you in pursuing a UM claim with your insurance carrier, take the following precautions:

  • Obtain a copy of the crash report and check that it accurately reflects what actually happened in the accident.
  • Seek immediate and consistent medical treatment. Follow doctor recommendation regarding follow-up care. Maintain copies of all crash-related medical records. This is the evidence of your injuries that will prove your insurance claim.
  • Immediately contact your insurance company to notify them of the crash. Do not speculate on the crash and especially not on your injuries. If they ask about your injuries, you can simply respond by saying you do not know the extent of your injuries and are currently seeking medical treatment.
  • Talk to a personal injury attorney. Personal injury attorneys have the experience with these types of claims and with insurance companies to help insure that an insurance company does not take advantage of you when you are in times of need.

If you do not have uninsured motorist coverage, you will be limited to your own insurance coverage. Many states require drivers to have personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. PIP is “no fault” coverage that will pay for your medical expenses, up to your policy limit, regardless of who was at fault for an accident. Some states have auto medical payments (AMP) coverage which is first-party, “no fault” coverage. Regardless of what state you may be from, check your insurance policy to see what type of first party benefits you have to cover your expenses after an accident.

Getting into a car accident is overwhelming. Being injured in a car accident can leave you in pain and in distress at the thought of missed days of work, missed income, and mounting medical bills. Know your options. Review your insurance policy for the type of coverage that may be available to you.


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Common Types of Personal Injury Cases

Thousands of individuals are injured in accidents in the United States every year. When injuries are caused by the negligent, reckless or intentional conduct of others, it is possible to obtain compensation by pursuing a personal injury claim. Some of the more common types of injury cases include:


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Monday, February 15, 2016

I wasn’t wearing my seatbelt. Can I still sue?

It is well accepted that wearing a seatbelt greatly reduces the risk of injury in an automobile accident. It is designed to keep a car’s occupant from being thrown around the passenger compartment or even ejected from the vehicle. It is significantly more dangerous to ride in an automobile without wearing one. That is why all cars are required to have them installed and almost every state has passed a law requiring drivers and passengers to wear their seatbelts. The answer to whether a person who fails to observe these laws can still collect money for injuries by filing a lawsuit depends entirely on the state.

In some jurisdictions, if an individual is not wearing a seatbelt, he or she may be barred from recovering any compensation for his or her injuries. These states are Alabama, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia, South Dakota, and Washington DC. This is called contributory negligence.

In other states, a different system is used. A jury must determine what percentage of a plaintiff’s injuries were caused by the plaintiff’s failure to wear a seatbelt. The court will then reduce the award by that percentage. The states that follow this system are Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, and Washington. This system is known as comparative negligence.

All other states use a hybrid system to determine whether or not a person can recover in a car accident when he or she was not wearing a seatbelt. If more than half of that individual’s injuries were caused by his or her failure to wear a seatbelt, he or she may not collect damages in court.

Even though the law varies from state to state, in every state, failure to wear a seatbelt can significantly reduce, or even completely bar, a person’s ability to recover damages and be made whole after a traffic accident. The law is meant to compensate a person for what he or she has lost through no fault of his or her own. The law says that failure to wear a seatbelt places some of that fault on the victim in a car accident.


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Auto Recalls and the Dangers They Seek to Avoid

Automakers recall millions of vehicles every year. A recall seeks to reach out to consumers to return faulty products, mistakenly put in the marketplace, for repair. In 2014, more than 60 million vehicles were recalled, nearly doubling the previous record set in 2004. These automobiles all had some sort of defect. Some of the defects, while annoying, were not of serious concern, such as a faulty air conditioners, while others resulted in significant safety issues, like problems with the ignition switches, brakes, or steering. Honda issued a recall of 14 million vehicles because its airbags might shoot sharp pieces of metal into the car when deploying.

Of the 60 million cars that were recalled in 2014, less than half were actually repaired. Consumers may not be aware of the recall. Cars change hands several times, and dealers have trouble reaching out to everyone who might have the car. Several major car manufacturers have been caught purposely misleading regulators and consumers about recalls to save money. Toyota recently paid a $1.2 billion fine for this improper action. Even when everyone is aware that a recall has been issued, a consumer may not prioritize it. When consumers are able to bring their automobiles in for the recall, the part necessary for the repair may be unavailable, especially on older model cars that are no longer in production.

This leaves millions of automobiles on the road every year that may pose significant safety issues. Wiring issues can increase the risk of car fires. Vehicle components could break resulting in loss of control of the vehicle. Seat belts might be defective. Windshield wipers might not work properly. All of these problems make the roads less safe for drivers of these vehicles and everyone else on the road.

If a consumer is injured as a result of an issue caused by an automobile defect, he or she may have a substantial claim against the auto manufacturer. If the defect has caused a collision, the car company may be responsible for all injuries. A consultation with an experienced attorney is necessary to determine whether or not a claim is viable in a particular situation. 

 


Monday, September 28, 2015

What is Whiplash?

Whiplash occurs when a person suffers a sudden impact that causes the head to snap forwards, backwards, or sideways. The violent force of this jerking motion causes the muscles, tendons, and ligaments to stretch or tear. Such injuries are sometimes classified as sprains or strains of the neck. Whiplash is most commonly the result of a car accident, but can also be the result of participation in contact sports like football, or from being the victim of an act of violence. Any time the neck is hyperextended or hyperflexed, a person is at risk for whiplash.

Symptoms of whiplash include muscle soreness, stiffness, and tenderness. Victims also typically suffer reduced range of motion. Other common maladies associated with whiplash include headaches, dizziness, fatigue, jaw pain, numbness and weakness in the extremities. Some people with whiplash experience ringing in their ears, blurred vision, and memory problems, though these symptoms are less common. Many people ignore whiplash symptoms which may prolong or worsen their consequences. Those who blame the soreness and stiffness of whiplash  on sleeping in an uncomfortable position and dismiss the pain as temporary often fail to seek treatment in a timely fashion. This can lead to more serious problems, including depression, anxiety, and sleep disturbances. It is important to seek medical attention and to treat whiplash symptoms as soon as possible after an accident in order to avoid complications. 

Doctors' opinions vary on the best way to treat whiplash symptoms. Different doctors may recommend icing the affected area, using painkillers or drugs to numb the pain, using a neck brace or collar to immobilize the neck, physical therapy and exercises to stretch the sore muscles, acupuncture, massage, or chiropractic manipulation. Many physicians may recommend a combination of strategies. Only a licensed medical professional is qualified to give advice on how to treat whiplash. 

An skilled attorney can handle the legal aspects of the accident to help ensure that the injured party can concentrate on the important work of physical recovery. The lawyer will obtain police reports, witness statements and other evidence to prepare a lawsuit against the individual responsible for the whiplash injury.  The lawyer will also document medical expenses, seek approval for required tests, and file a claim or a lawsuit on behalf of an injured party. The lawyer’s experience in dealing with insurance companies ensures that victims of whiplash-related injuries are reimbursed for their pain and suffering as well as for their medical expenses. 


Monday, September 7, 2015

What Do Insurance Policy Limits Mean for My Case?

An individual who causes a injuries to another person can be held economically responsible for those injuries by a court of law. Anticipating this, the law requires that those participating in potentially dangerous activities, such as driving, carry liability insurance to cover costs in case such an injury occurs. These insurance policies are meant to cover the damages suffered by a potential victim in a personal injury case. There are limits to what these policies cover, though they vary based on how much an insured person is willing to pay as a monthly premium. 

If a person is insured for up to $100,000, that individual’s insurance company will pay out up to $100,000.00 for substantiated damages suffered by the victim. If that victim’s injuries are more substantial, that is, if a jury awards more than $100,000, the balance of the money must be paid by the individual who is at fault instead of by the insurance company. 

An individual without insurance is often referred to as “judgment proof” meaning that, even if a jury awards a verdict against that person, the judgment that results cannot be enforced against him or her. As the saying goes, “you cannot get blood from a stone.” If a plaintiff in a personal injury case attempts to enforce a judgment against a defendant who lacks insurance coverage, the defendant may avoid paying by crying poverty and filing for bankruptcy. Such action may discharge the debts depending on the nature of the injuries and the accident. Similarly, any portion of a judgment owed by an insured individual without personal funds will be nearly impossible to collect. 

As a result, regardless of how much an individual has suffered as a result of the negligence of another, the amount he or she is able to collect is limited to the size of the defendant’s insurance policy. It is impractical to push a case to settle above the policy when it is nearly impossible to collect additional money. This pushes cases in which an individual has suffered catastrophic injuries to settle for substantially less than they might be able to receive if they were to go to trial. Although this seems unfair,  a lawsuit is the only practical way to resolve these disputes when a defendant’s insurance policy limits are too small to cover the plaintiff’s pain and suffering.


Monday, July 6, 2015

Importance of Credible Accident Reconstruction Testimony

If you have been injured in an automobile collision, your attorney may require the assistance of an experienced accident expert to help prove who is at fault for the accident. Generally, in order to recover any compensation for your injuries or property damage, you will have to prove that the other party was somehow negligent. Accident reconstruction experts are professionals who have obtained specialized training in order to analyze the physics of the accident scene, determine vehicle speeds and movements, and effectively communicate their findings to the court or insurance company representatives.

These professionals come from a variety of backgrounds, including science education, engineering, or law enforcement who have undertaken special training. These experts can evaluate the scene of the accident, develop calculations and assessments regarding how the accident occurred or how damages were sustained, and can testify to these facts and findings before a judge or jury. They do so by offering a variety of services, including site visits to the scene of the accident, taking photos, interviewing witnesses, applying the applicable scientific principles and preparing a final report. That report often forms basis for the expert’s testimony in court. Generally, the importance of the accident reconstructionist’s testimony is directly tied to the complexity or controversial nature of the accident in question.

Expert testimony regarding how an accident occurred is key to settlement negotiations. Using illustrations, simulations, models, animations and other methods, accident reconstructionists can show exactly what happened, how it happened, and how it could have been prevented.  Even if there are photographs of crash scenes and medical records, these can usually demonstrate the severity of the accident or damages sustained rather than proving who was at fault.

Usually, both sides hire their own reconstruction experts and, not surprisingly, those reports often conflict with one another. When this happens, the experts' credibility becomes a key issue. As in every case where there is conflicting testimony, the decision-makers must make a determination regarding which expert to believe.


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

What is soft tissue damage and how is it treated?

Soft tissue damage refers to damage done to the muscles, ligaments, and tendons throughout the body.  Often referred to as sprains, strains, contusions and tendonitis, soft tissue damage is usually caused by a traumatic event such as a slip and fall or a traffic accident.  It can result in swelling, bruising, and loss of function.   Immediately after an injury, the area affected by soft tissue damage should be protected, rested from any strenuous activity, kept cool with ice to regulate swelling, compressed and elevated.  If pain continues after 72 hours, it is likely that the injury is more than a simple sprain or strain.  When the soft tissue is inflamed for a long period of time it could result in serious, long-term damage.

When soft tissue damage exists in the back and the spinal column is compressed, it may result in what is commonly referred to as a pinched nerve.  Each vertebrae is separated by a gel filled sac that acts as a cushion between the bones.  When the muscles surrounding and supporting the spine are inflamed, it pushes the bones together, squeezing the sac and causing it to bulge, called a bulging disc.  In more serious cases, the sac actually ruptures.  This is called a herniated disc.  Besides being incredibly painful, these conditions can result in weakness or numbness in the extremities, known as radiculopathy.

MRI can confirm the existence of a bulging or herniated disc.  Treatment varies depending on the severity of the case.  For some, physical therapy and chiropractic manipulation will be enough to heal the damaged area.  This is considered conservative treatment.  There is the possibility that an epidural injection to the affected area could help reduce inflammation and give the injury an opportunity to heal.  If nothing else is successful, spinal fusion or decompression may be an option to reduce pain. A doctor should be consulted before engaging in any sort of treatment.  


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Richard F. Silber is admitted to practice in Washington, D.C. and Maryland. From his office in Georgetown, he and his legal team assist clients throughout the Washington metropolitan area.



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| Phone: 202-338-0687

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